A platform divided cannot stand -- at least not for long -- prompting vendors to strive for the Holy Grail of marketing integration.
Posted Feb 25, 2008
A sexy new concept has infiltrated the marketing-software world lately, as professionals in the field try to grasp the ever-more-elusive customer -- and that concept is integration. That may explain the reasoning behind the announcement today by marketing-software platform provider Coremetrics, about the release of Coremetrics Connect and how the new platform brings a closed-loop solution to online marketing. The promise of Connect is that it will enable partners and customers to seamlessly access information and to integrate it with an existing Coremetrics platform, all at the touch of a button.
According to the company, Coremetrics Connect will "integrate leading digital marketing applications -- including search, online content optimization, email, and behavioral targeting technologies -- to effectively monitor, measure, and optimize campaign performance across multiple channels." As a result, every piece of customer data can be combined and analyzed. In turn, the company is better able to target (and, ideally, serve) each customer's needs.
John Squire, chief strategy officer at Coremetrics, says that, in what he calls the marketing "ecosystem," technology must come together if marketers have any hope of acquiring the most accurate set of data. If this can be achieved in real time, he says, everyone will benefit. "The partners that we're working with don't believe there's going to be just one single provider of all these [technologies]," Squire says. Instead, these partners contend that separate best-of-breed solutions will arise. According to this line of thought -- and, with Connect, Coremetrics is obviously banking on it -- rather than simply relying on a network of interrelated partners, the best way to take full advantage of these standalone solutions is through an integration platform, where solutions can share a single, common, and consistent data structure, making it easier to move information between partners and to expedite the integration process.
"We now have a programmatic way of helping marketers address the pain points of integration," Squire says. Partners and customers can get their hands on the most up-to-date Coremetrics technology and Coremetrics Connect Certified Solutions as they go step-by-step through an integration wizard. This bypasses any need for Coremetrics to handcraft the solution for each customer. If additional customizations are involved, users have to go through the partner or Coremetrics, but the user's own in-house technology staff, Squire says, "should not be involved in doing any type of integration."
Experts agree that integration is an organizational priority, but when it comes to marketing automation, the reality has yet to live up to the ambition. "Online marketing integration is important, but the bulk of enterprises have yet to adopt it," says Bill Gassman, research director at Gartner. He says Coremetrics has done well in terms of integrating complementary marketing tools, such as targeted email systems and ad servers, adding that it was not an easy feat.
The launch of Coremetrics Connect signals the company's "commitment to build integration features and...a set of partner tools that have been tested," Gassman says. Furthermore, Coremetrics is paving the way for the rest of the industry as well. "Making [integration] easier -- and [providing] assurance that it works -- will encourage more online-marketing professionals to take the plunge into these powerful techniques," he says. In addition, results will improve by virtue of combining analytics and marketing, which will encourage further use of the solution. Other features include a centralized repository of partner reviews, which Gassman believes will help contribute to the sales and distribution of partner applications.
Although Coremetrics has made significant strides in terms of online-marketing integration, Gassman says the real challenge -- and ultimate goal of a truly integrated system -- is in the marriage of online and offline channels. He notes that, compared to Coremetrics, larger vendors such as Unica and SAS Institute are "further along with that goal." Another challenge the company faces is attracting partners, especially given that its closest competitor, Omniture, has been pursuing a similar program -- Omniture Genesis -- for over a year, according to Gassman.
Nevertheless, while partners may be attracted to Omniture's larger installed base, Coremetrics has some tempting bait -- particularly in the retail space. Customers, he adds, "will end up with a smaller set of partners [with] Coremetrics, [but it will be] enough of a selection to be valuable."
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